When the relationship with food becomes complex, it’s important to let go of what doesn’t nourish you.
By Shonté Jovan Taylor, M.Sc., Ph.D.(c)
Food, our bodies, confidence, the brain and feeling attractive—they’re all connected, and a change in one area can ripple through others. In my neuroscientist POV, the brain is the most captivating powerhouse of the human body. It serves as the command center that shapes our minds, hearts and behaviors, ultimately sculpting our destinies and impacting the world around us, for better or worse.
We should also remember that internal and external factors, as well as subconscious and conscious elements, influence our self-perception and subsequent actions. As we approach the next few months—a period marked by a fluctuating mindset involving indulgence in food followed by regretful crash diets in the new year, which often foster feelings of regret, shame, guilt and self-criticism—it becomes imperative to confront these annual challenges and seek sustainable resolutions for a healthier, more balanced and empowering lifestyle.
The Put It In Perspective technique, which I’ve coined the “PIIP technique,” can help you reframe and shift your perspective instantly. Simply say “Pip!” or “Peep!” to snap yourself into a new mindset. Use the E’s as a guide to refocus your thoughts and actions toward food, enabling a shift in perspective.
Please note: I present these “E” perspectives not to deepen the sense of struggle, but to broaden the lens and empower you—especially when it comes to food.
Ethos: Bring Food Culture to Light
Ethos, in its essence, encapsulates the spirit, beliefs and values that shape a community or culture. It extends beyond to encompass the character and guiding beliefs of individuals. In most societies, food is a symbol of celebration, binding communities, sealing rituals and etching memories. It is a cornerstone of cultural dynamics and experiences.
Food isn’t merely fuel; it is the medium through which our brains thrive. Each bite is a sensorial journey, engaging all five senses and weaving itself into the fabric of our memories, a timeline and record of our existence. So why do some people, particularly women, grapple with their relationship with food and, consequently, their existence?
Cultural standards and expectations regarding women’s appearances and roles are deeply ingrained, fostering frustration and stress. From a young age, societal ideals dictate what the “perfect” body should be, leading to body image crises that shape emotional landscapes.
Emotions: The Heartbeat of Decision-Making
In moments of joy and celebration, food takes center stage, an indulgence in the pleasure of the senses. Conversely, in times of sadness, stress and self-doubt, our relationship with food takes a different turn—comfort-seeking or a flight response that denies nourishment, sometimes spiraling into extreme eating disorders. When we can shift our emotions, we can shift our perspective, and thus our relationship with food.
Expectations: Take Societal Pressures Into Account
As festivities beckon, laden with social engagements centered around food, the pressure to conform to a predefined physique intensifies. Domestic duties, entwined with societal expectations, become overwhelming, pushing us toward unhealthy eating habits. By recognizing the underlying forces that shape our expectations, we gain the power to transform our mindset when it comes to food.
Empower: Choose Your Truth
By choosing your truth, you no longer need to feel invisible, disposable, minimized, misunderstood or inauthentic. Within the core of human existence lies a profound truth: Your inherent worth transcends the confines of societal expectations.
Imagine this journey as akin to consuming food—there’s a choice in how you partake. Much like swallowing a morsel, life’s complexities can feel overwhelming. Societal expectations and personal challenges may make you feel as if you’re being consumed, lost in the vastness of it all. But remember, just as you control the pace at which you chew and savor your food, you dictate how you navigate through the complexities of life.
Evolution: A Mental and Emotional Journey
You are not merely a consumer of food; you are an architect of your well-being. As you evolve your relationship with food, do so with intention. Recognize that the issues surrounding food are deeply rooted in the intricate web of our brains, ethos and our ability to reframe.
Value your food’s sustenance not just for its physical benefits but for the joy it brings, the memories it creates and the mindful experience it offers.
In those challenging moments, when feelings of tension and anxiety provoke unwelcome associations with food, making you feel as though you are unraveling, morphing into a version of yourself you’d rather not be—far from your higher self—seize the power of PIIP. Let it be your compass to put life back into perspective, swiftly enabling you to reframe the narrative and assert your agency over the unfolding story of your life.
Eat from joy. Eat for nostalgia.
Eat from a healthy mindset. Eat to have energy.
Eat for celebration. Eat for delight.
But no longer eat from the fork of fruitless ideas and thoughts that offer no nourishment to your mind and your value in society. Let go of anything that does not fulfill, inspire or nourish your soul.